The San Francisco 49ers start December with home games against the Buffalo Bills and Washington Football Team. However, both of these matchups are in doubt due to COVID-19 restrictions. Santa Clara County officials banned all contact sports for the next three weeks.
According to Yahoo! Sports, the officials released the new guidelines due to spiking coronavirus cases in California. There is now a three-week ban on all contact sports. The county says that the rules apply to all professional, collegiate and youth sports. The ban specifically affects the 49ers, Stanford University and San Jose State due to their home games taking place in Santa Clara County.
"All recreational activities that involve physical contact or close proximity to persons outside one’s household, including all contact sports, will be temporarily prohibited," the order said. "People can continue to engage in outdoor athletics and recreation where social distancing can be maintained at all times."
In addition to the 49ers, both Stanford and San Jose State have games in Santa Clara County in early December. Stanford will host Oregon State on Dec. 12 while San Jose State will host Hawaii on Dec. 5 and Nevada on Dec. 12. The county has already been in contact with the teams impacted by the new rules, which will also apply to basketball and other close contact sports.
The new rules also ban practices, meaning that the teams and players can't gather in preparation for any upcoming matchups. Stanford and San Jose State both previously held preseason practices in other counties due to Santa Clara County's rules. The 49ers, on the other hand, did not play in preseason games due to the altered NFL guidelines.
Prior to the 2020 season, the league released rules for training camp in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Teams could only hold walk-through practices and strength and conditioning sessions during the first two weeks. The 49ers could not hold any actual padded practices until Aug. 17, and the team had to avoid tackling.
The contact sports restrictions are only the latest guidelines released in California due to rising coronavirus cases. Los Angeles, for example, halted all indoor and outdoor dining activities for the next three weeks. The L.A. County Department of Public Health said that the decision to shut down indoor and outdoor dining was necessary to "reduce the possibility for crowding and the potential for exposures in settings where people are not wearing their face coverings."